The 2019 summer Friends of the East Fork (FOEF) field season went by very fast. With the help of many volunteers, FOEF members, and collaboration with the Salmon Creek Fly Fishers/Healing Waters VC Veterans Group, we got a lot of key project maintenance work done. Some new projects were started but there is much more that needs to be done in 2020.
The removal of sediment from the Manly Road Creek salmon fry rearing pool was delayed because of permitting issues that we are now working out with the WA F&W. This is a “man-made” pool that was created in 2008 when we rebuilt the lower stream sections of the creek. This also included new spawning beds, a major culvert replacement and bank revegetation. Over the last 8 years, the long narrow deep pool has been used to rear rescued “T&E” listed salmon and steelhead. Because of the good road access, the site is also used as a conservation education tour stop and to promote “good land stewardship”.
The “Beaver Deceiver” pipe installation in the very large long side-channel adjacent to the Swanson Airstrip was delayed till 2020. Cool groundwater in this channel will be fed thru the 2 beaver dams and into the lower East Fork where it will help reduce summer low flow temperatures and provide a channel where salmon fry can escape to get relief from high summer stream temperatures in the lower reaches of the East Fork.
We have added a whole new level of educational cooperation by linking up with the La Center High School Student Environmental Class. They are providing water quality monitoring and other kinds of project monitoring support to five key projects located on the lower East Fork and in the lower channel reaches of Mason Creek, which is a tributary stream to the East Fork on the Dean Swanson family property. This cooperation includes new potential project sites as well as existing Powerline Bend, Mason Creek Fish Rearing Pool, Floating Log Jam, Chum Channel, and the Irrigation Pump Bend Projects. A class of about 16 students along with Teacher and Advisers come out to the area a couple times a month and work on the projects. We also provide specialized equipment such as laser levels and under water GoPro cameras to assist the students in their data acquisition and results monitoring field work.
Our Board of Directors (which includes retired stream and fish professional scientists) also strongly support the various grant funding organizations that fund salmon habitat and stream restoration, but we recently have been able to get some major work done without applying for grants. And, we also were the recipients of some generous money donations from private sources. Also we now have volunteer licensed drone pilot who has a professional level drone and flies our project areas for us, see the Powerline Bend photo.
Some of our more recent larger projects relied on in kind donations (materials, equipment, and volunteers) to get built. In addition, we did extensive data acquisition and an impact analysis report to evaluate the potential effects of a proposed WA DNR partial-clearcut adjacent to the heavily used Hantwick Trail that that runs parallel to the Lucia Falls-Moulton Falls Regional Park on the upper East Fork. The report helped to delay the logging of the unstable area above the trail and open the door for Clark County to acquire the area thru a land swap.
This year we received over $8,000 of donated materials, and the year before we received over $90,000 of “in kind” donations involving all three donation components which helped enable us to do the extensive Powerline Bend project on the lower East Fork. In addition, all donations to FOEF are tax deductible because we are a 501©3 organization. We expect to apply for various kinds of grants in 2020 as we do more water quality and riparian streambank improvement work.
It has become very clear to us that all the small tributary streams that feed into the East Fork are important to salmon and steelhead survival and need our protection as well as enhancement in some places. This need was officially documented in the Bonneville Power Study of Tributary Streams in the Columbia River Basin. Now locally this has been verified on Mason Creek (on which we have completed several projects) and where the Dave Brown Wild Fish Rescue Program with the help of local landowners, has been rescuing as many as 5000 t0 7000 fry from upper pools as they began to dry up in late summer, and where the recent WA F&W fish shocking counts resulted in an estimate of 30,000 to 35,000 of annual production of salmon and steelhead fry. Mason Creek, which flows into the lower East Fork upstream of La Center at about Rivermile-5 on the Swanson Family property — is a fish factory!
The project plans and maintenance work anticipated for 2020 will need a lot of volunteer help. We hope that many of our FOEF members, interested citizens, Clark County Parks Staff, and other Fisheries and Watershed Conservation Groups will join us in gathering field data and doing project maintenance to improve as well as protect the East Fork and its tributaries. THE EAST FORK IS KNOWN THRUOUT WASHINGTON AS THE “JEWEL OF CLARK COUNTY AND AN IRREPLACIBLE ASSET”